The 2016 Premiers should field an almost unchanged side from the one that finished third in the regular season last year.
The two notable exclusions are Ben Barba and Michael Ennis. Barba will likely miss the opening twelve rounds while Ennis announced his retirement at the end of the 2016 season.
The Sharks have a fairly good opening draw; facing just two of the top four favourites in the opening ten rounds of the season. Does this mean we could look at one of their outside backs as a point of difference?
Let’s take a look at how the Cronulla Sharks could shape up in round one.
- Valentine Holmes ($329.3k) should be first in line to replace Ben Barba at fullback. He’ll also come with DPP status and isn’t too expensive considering he averaged around 50 PPG while playing on the wing. I’m assuming Holmes will hold a 60 point average at fullback with the additional runs and involvement, which should give us the option to switch to a keeper upon Barba’s return. I can see a lot of coaches running with two Gun fullbacks in their starting side with Tuivasa-Sheck, Slater, Hayne and Holmes all being attractive buys.
- Sosaia Feki ($272.5k) averaged 40.8 PPG in 2016 and should be monitored closely after the Sharks play their tough opening two games. He may not be at the top of my POD list but I wouldn’t be ruling him out completely, especially if his price drops even further once round four comes along.
- Jack Bird ($346.4k) will be picked as a point of difference by a handful of coaches but won’t be on my radar until I see how he performs in the opening rounds. His 51.8 point average in 2016 is nothing to sneeze at but his opening games next season against the Broncos and Raiders make me a little nervous.
- Ricky Leutele ($299.1k) can be very inconsistent and probably won’t be worth risking in your starting side. He averaged 44.8 PPG last season and scored a memorable 132 points (while playing just 51 minutes) against the Eels in round 17. Like Bird and Feki, throw him on your ‘wait and see’ list.
- Gerard Beale ($265k) averaged just 39.7 PPG in 2016 and may not be able to make much coin if he finds himself playing on the wing. You’ll have to hope that he jags some attacking stats if you’re going to try to use him as a stepping stone to a Gun.
- James Maloney ($335.1k) had an extremely inconsistent season in 2016 but he could be a beneficial option for your starting side. His DPP status could come in handy and he’s more than capable of increasing in value if you want to upgrade him to the likes of Johnson or Thurston. I’d probably avoid using him in your run home side though; the Sharks have a terrible run home.
- Chad Townsend ($342.3k) won’t be considered by many coaches although I wouldn’t rule him out completely. He scored just one game below 40 points in the final eleven rounds of the 2016 season and showed consistency throughout the entire year.
- Andrew Fifita ($481.9k) is one of the few players that finished with a 2016 season average over 70 PPG. He may only play around 55 minutes per game but he has one of the best PPM figures in the competition. Keep in mind that he’ll miss a number of games through the Origin period but he’s a player you’ll definitely want in your run home side. As for your starting side, he’ll obviously keep your points ticking over but you’ll need to save some coin in other positions. Don’t expect his price to fluctuate too often either. He scored just one game below 50 points in 2016 so you’ll be paying similar to his starting price at most stages of the season.
- Manaia Cherrington ($143.6k) / Fa’amanu Brown ($193.9k) / Daniel Mortimer ($232k) are the three candidates to fill the gap left by Michael Ennis who finished his illustrious career in 2016. Whoever takes his place should play 80 minutes but this doesn’t necessarily mean we should be making room for them in our starting side. If Cherrington gets named at hooker on Team List Tuesday then there’s little risk in making him your back-up hooker (due to his low price). If Brown or Mortimer are named then I’ll be waiting to see how they perform in the opening two rounds of the season then deciding whether they’re worthy of becoming a stepping stone to a Gun.
- Matt Prior ($287.1k) is the cheapest of the Sharks’ starting forwards but his minutes and output are too inconsistent for my liking. He averaged just 43 PPG last year and he’ll give you 20s and 30s on a regular basis.
- Luke Lewis ($352.5k) can be a frustrating POD to own if you decide to put him in your starting side. He doesn’t always play 80 minutes like most second-rowers and he’s far from being labelled as consistent. If we’re looking for a positive, I guess he’s capable of making some quick coin if he jags a run of attacking stats so keep a close eye on his Break Even each week.
- Wade Graham ($374.9k) will usually play 80 minutes and is no stranger to being involved in attacking plays. He’s one of those players you could pick up when he drops in price to later offload for a decent profit. Be wary that he could produce the occasional 30 to 40 point game so it might pay to pick him up at a cheaper price if at all.
- Paul Gallen ($503.9k) will likely play his final season in the NRL but don’t expect him to take his foot off the pedal. Gallen’s age and tendency to get injured is always under question in the SuperCoach world but he continually delivers some of the best figures in the game. Incredibly, a large portion of his 1357 points last year came from base stats. He finished the 2016 season with an impressive 75.4 PPG average so there’s no question that his price is justified. I personally can’t bring myself to fork out over $500k for one player. I’ll be crossing my fingers and hoping he comes down in price after the opening games. After all, he dropped $20k after the first two rounds in 2016 after scoring one of his lowest scores of the season in round one.
- Kurt Capewell ($177.5k) played two games in 2016 but can be used in the second row or centres. It’s hard to tell how he’ll be used in 2017 but we’ll have a couple of rounds to take note before we have to worry about him. I guess you could use him as a NPR in your starting side although he probably won’t help your cause if you’re one to use the loophole.
- Sam Tagataese ($188.5k) will play around 25 minutes per game and usually won’t crack the 30 point mark. He isn’t SuperCoach relevant at this stage.
- Jayson Bukuya ($310.8k) is too overpriced is he finds himself playing from the bench. He may be able to produce some good scores from time to time but I doubt he’ll maintain that price for too long.
- Chris Heighington ($217.1k) will usually score anywhere between 30 and 40 points and won’t be beneficial to your team unless he’s required to cover a starting spot. He actually produces a pretty good PPM figure but he normally plays around 30 minutes per game.
Can the 2016 Premiers go back to back?